I’m honored to have Kate M. Colby as a guest on Books & Such today! Her book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, was released on October 15th and Kate is here today to tell us more about the world of Desertera.
The Religion of Desertera
If you’ve been following my blog tour, you’ll know quite a bit about Desertera, the world of my novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter. (If you haven’t been following, welcome to the party!) In short, Desertera is a dystopian steampunk world without steam—a desert wasteland that renders the steam-powered mechanisms of the former steampunk society useless. After all, without excess water to create steam, the society’s technology cannot be powered.
But how did Desertera get this way? How did the world go from a typical steampunk society (much like the traditional, Victorian-era London commonly depicted in books of the genre) to a post-apocalyptic wasteland? Here’s an excerpt from The Cogsmith’s Daughter, where my protagonist, Aya, remembers the religious beliefs her father taught her:
“Our people didn’t always live in Desertera, Aya.” Papa pulled her onto his lap. “Once, hundreds of years ago, our ancestors lived in a beautiful, lush land—a land filled with grass and trees and lakes and rivers. There were rolling hills, open meadows, and flowers, all kinds of colorful flowers.”
“Was there still sand?” Aya brushed a few grains from the hem of her skirt.
“There was but only at the edge of the ocean and in lands far away from ours. Our land was full of nature and cities. Oh, the cities, Aya! They were full of metal and stone with buildings as tall as the sky. All the machines ran by gears and cogs, like the gizmos in my shop, and there was enough water and steam to power every single one. More than that, there was enough water and steam to power entire cities, whole countries.” Papa swept his hand in the air, pointing at all the gadgets and beyond the ceiling.
“What happened to it all?”
Papa sighed. “Do you remember what I told you about the Gods?”
Aya nodded. “There is a kingdom above our heads, a whole world of gods in the sky. The Almighty King and the Benevolent Queen were married, but then the Almighty King forsook their bed for another goddess’s. The Benevolent Queen was so sad that She cried. She cried so much that Her tears fell down to our world and flooded everything.”
“That’s right. It rained for decades, and our ancestors built a great steam ship to carry them through the Benevolent Queen’s tears.”
“The Queen Hildegard!” Aya clapped her hands.
Papa smiled and patted her head. “Yes, Aya. The Queen Hildegard, named after the mortal queen who ruled when the great flood happened.”
Aya scrunched up her face. “But Papa, if the world was all water, why is Desertera so dry?”
“After the Benevolent Queen cried all Her tears, She got mad—so mad that the heat of Her anger dried up the world and made it into a desert.”
“Without water, the ship got stuck on land and became the palace.”
“Exactly.” Papa leaned forward. “Then the Benevolent Queen took the Almighty King’s power and banished Him deep below the desert soil. When She did that, She saw the mortal world had become a desert, and She felt terribly guilty for what She had done to us, Her children. So She appeared to our king and offered to help us.”
“But the world is still desert. Why didn’t She save us?”
“Well, She discovered that our king, just like the Almighty King, was sharing the bed of a woman who wasn’t his queen. This angered the Benevolent Queen, and She cursed the mortals, swearing that we will never again know our beautiful world of water and land until our kings and queens learn honesty and fidelity.”
Aya’s brows furrowed. “But King Archon is good, isn’t he? No one speaks ill of King Archon. He must be good.”
Papa motioned for her to stand and looked her straight in the eyes. “That’s right, Aya. You must never speak ill of King Archon or Prince Lionel or the queen, no matter who holds the title.”
“I won’t, Papa.”
“Good.” Papa smiled and squeezed her shoulders.
Aya pursed her lips and tapped her chin. “Papa?”
“Why did the Almighty King want a different bed? Was his too stiff?”
Papa chuckled. “Something like that.”
As a result of this belief, that a scorned goddess turned the world to a desert wasteland, adultery is declared one of the vilest crimes in society, punishable by execution.
So, what attracted me, as an author, to this theme? My husband likes to joke that it’s a warning to show exactly what would happen to him if he betrayed me (ha ha)—but really, this law is about so much more than betrayal. The consequences of adultery’s criminalization are far-reaching and destroy lives over physically harmless (though ethically questionable) actions. Moreover, the strict moral codes breed other injustices (like blatant sexism) and even worse crimes (like King Archon orchestrating the executions of his wives). Overall, this theme is my way to comment on the ills I see in our society by showing them in new lights and to encourage my readers to think about the injustices they see.
That, and it makes for a pretty good story, too.
If you’d like to find out if King Archon gets away with framing his wives in adultery, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win one of three signed copies of The Cogsmith’s Daughter, HERE.
Don’t like leaving things to chance? Me either. You can purchase your copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter at any of these online retailers:
WHEN THE STEAM-POWERED WORLD DRIES UP…
Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.
ONE KING RULES WITH ABSOLUTE POWER AND UNQUENCHABLE LUST…
Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.
UNTIL THE COGSMITH’S DAUGHTER RISKS EVERYTHING FOR VENGEANCE.
When Aya Cogsmith was a young girl, King Archon had her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.
Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.
Kate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website: www.KateMColby.com.